Some Kansas lawmakers fear Medicaid application backlog will grow

? Some Kansas lawmakers are expressing concern over whether another backlog of Medicaid applications in the state will emerge.

The Topeka-Capital Journal reports that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is on track to clear a current KanCare backlog after the agency told federal officials in June the number of unprocessed applications was underreported by 12,000.

“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, along with our partners; Accenture and Maximus; will continue to improve our processes and our technology to ensure we minimize any possibility of additional backlogs,” KDHE Deputy Secretary Aaron Dunkel wrote.

The backlog developed in 2015, spurred by problems with a new electronic eligibility system. The department retained temporary staff and enlisted the help of the Department for Children and Families to deal with the backlog.

State Rep. Jim Ward says he thinks that it’s probable that another backlog will emerge and that the agency is unprepared to keep the volume of applications under control.

To fix one backlog, the agency created another. For the moment, KDHE has stopped processing Medicaid renewal applications. The agency said less than 5 percent of renewal applications are typically rejected.

As of mid-July, more than 35,000 renewal applications sat idle. KDHE plans to begin once again reviewing renewals when the first-time application backlog approaches a manageable figure.

Auditors found Kansas was not in compliance with a federal law that requires applicants to receive an eligibility determination within 45 days. Currently, KDHE must send CMS a report every two weeks detailing the size of the backlog. The audit report said CMS officials plan no further actions once the backlog is resolved.

Sean Gatewood of KanCare Advocates Network is conflicted as to whether KDHE should face punishment over the backlog.

“Certainly, do I feel like KDHE needs some sort of sanctioning? You better believe it,” Gatewood said. “But at the same time, taking money out of a starved system is a terrible option. I don’t know what the right move is. I don’t think a right move exists.”